Our picks for players of the game following West Virginia's 42-24 victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats.
On offense, senior wide receiver Brandon Myles gets the nod over usual suspects Patrick White and Steve Slaton. Myles caught two passes for 64 yards, including a 34 yard touchdown from White in the second quarter that was essentially the nail in Cincinnati's coffin. On that play, Myles attacked the ball at its highest point, made the catch, absorbed a hit, and still managed to get a foot down in the corner of the end zone for the second Mountaineer score of the day.
Brandon's other catch game in the first quarter, and was arguably just as important as his touchdown. With West Virginia facing a third down and 19 at their own 40, the Goochland, Va. native had a beautiful catch and run that resulted in a first down for the Mountaineers.
On defense, we selected Eric Wicks in a split decision over linebacker Kevin "Boo" McLee. Wicks turned in a solid all-around performance with five tackles (all solo), a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pass break-up.
Just as important, perhaps, was the leadership that Wicks showed on the field with the Mountaineers playing several younger and less experienced players in the secondary.
The first game ball goes to McLee, who racked up a game-high nine tackles, including a pair of sacks. The senior weakside linebacker was simply all over the field on Saturday, and given his career success against the Bearcats, Cincinnati head coach Mark Dantonio is surely happy to see him go.
Boo's fellow linebacker, sophomore Reed Williams, also had a nice game with nine tackles, a pair of forced fumbles, two sacks, and a big hit on Bearcat quarterback Dustin Grutza in the third quarter.
Pat McAfee gets a game ball today for a good debut at punter. McAfee, who has been West Virginia's kicker since the start of last season, punted five times for an averaged of nearly 41 yards. Pat pinned one of his five punts inside the Bearcat 20.
Finally, the offensive line deserves a game ball following a solid day at the office for the Mountaineer offense. The line dusted off an old trick early in the game, changing up the snap count to draw the Bearcats offsides and then freezing until the penalty was called. On one of those plays, a couple of Mountaineer linemen took a little bit of contact, and then flopped to the turf like a World Cup soccer player.
More importantly, the line paved the way for 313 rushing yards against a Cincinnati defense that had not given up more than 166 yards on the ground all season.